(in my opinion!)
I have a lot of lenses. Like… a LOT of micro four thirds lenses. Probably way too many. But LOOK HOW CUTE THEY ARE! This is a family photo I can get on board with.
But, during the course of a year, there are a select few that I come back to again and again.
So here are my most used and loved lenses of 2018 with photo examples. There are two categories: the most versatile — the teles — and then the prime lenses, which are used for more specific things, but still absolutely shine.
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The Most Versatile
I could post 1000 lovely photos I’ve taken with this lens. It is just everything you could ask for in a stock lens. It’s weather-sealed, stabilised (meaning DUAL stabilisation if you use it with cameras like the GH5 or the GX80, which I do), it's small, well built, light enough… I just adore it.
It’s a 2.8 constant aperture, meaning you can get fast and lovely results throughout the whole focal range. And this lens is SHARP throughout. I honestly (this might be bad practice, but shhh!) shoot with it wide open at 2.8 like 95% of the time. It’s sharp and has never ever let me down. And having the confidence to leave it wide open means I seldom have to worry about shutter speeds betraying me. I can just shoot and know my images will be sharp, in focus, and not blurred.
Did I mention I love this lens?
Now, of course, 2.8 in micro four thirds land isn’t always fast enough in low light conditions. So there are a lot of prime lenses coming up in this list that I rely on in those trickier situations. But if I had to choose one lens for everything for the rest of my life, this would be the lens.
First of all, there are a few different versions of this lens (mark i, ii, and I think iii?) I have an older one, but because Panasonic are generally lovely, they’ve updated this lens to offer dual stabilisation with a firmware update, and thus saved me about 500 quid and an upgrade. Thanks, Panasonic! So if you can find an older version, I’d recommend saving some cash and going for it.
But whichever version you get, let me tell you, they’re all blummin’ lovely. If this is an older version then the newer ones will be easily as good and likely better. So a bit of spec: This is 2.8 constant aperture, weather-sealed, and stabilised. It’s also completely internal focusing, meaning the lens doesn’t get any bigger as you zoom out. This is AMAZING. This zoom lens is the same size as my stock lens. Talk about portable. Comparing this to a full frame 70-200mm 2.8 is just laughable. I love micro four thirds so much for space saving.
And speaking of my stock lens, this duo really is hard to beat. They’re designed to be used in tandem — with this one picking up where my stock has left off, at the 35mm focal range — and I do just that during weddings for the majority of the unpredictable moments. That way, with two cameras strapped to me, I have absolutely everything covered from 12mm to 100mm. I never miss a thing.
The “smuggle-ability” (yes that’s a thing honest) of this lens is off the charts. I took this through the rather OTT metal security during the London NFL games — where cameras are not allowed — and the security didn’t take it seriously at all. They let me right on through. All the other zoom lenses were being stopped at the gates. I got some cracking photos of the game, and my seats weren’t half as close as you’d think.
Same for gigs. I’ve gotten this into a lot of places where cameras aren’t allowed. Especially if I pair this with my G7 or a smaller body. It’s epic.
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The Best Micro Four Thirds Prime Lenses
(according to this person right here)
I think prime lenses really make the micro four thirds system sing. Prime lenses are usually small, match the aesthetic of m43, and they help the smaller sensor out in low light situations. And, as a general rule, they’re cheaper too! What’s not to love! Here are my most used micro four thirds prime lenses in 2018.
OK. Silly criticism incoming… I lose this damn lens ALL the time. It’s so small! I mean, that’s also a great selling point too, but honestly no other lens has given me as many heart-jolting moments or left me scrambling around a room.
The Olympus 45mm f1.8 is a brilliant portrait lens, and it is pretty affordable too, compared to a lot of the competition. It’s simple: it does its job damn well, and has no frills. It isn’t stabilised, it isn’t weather-sealed (to my knowledge? But then again I don’t shoot many portraits in the rain) and it’s compact. It’s sharp and fast. It’s a cracking lens for the price.
I use this primarily for portraits, but it’s pretty good at isolating the subject in most other circumstances too. However, the focus distance means you don’t get any additional macro capability for your money, but if you’re after a portable, sharp, easily-losable portrait lens then this is the best on the market.
So I did say prime lenses were “on the whole” less pricy. I had to put that little disclaimer in because of this beauty. The Lumix/Leica 25mm f1.4 shouldn’t be as good as it is. It isn’t weather-sealed, it isn’t stabilised, and the build quality is a little bit plastic-y. It isn’t like, flimsy or anything, but for the price of it you might expect more.
However, the image quality is what matters, right?
Ive had the privilege of reviewing a LOT of 25mm lenses in my time. It’s a very popular focal length, and perhaps the most crowded focal length for micro four thirds in general. And after reviewing a hundred-and-one 25mm primes, this one comes out as a clear winner for me. It’s just a joy to use. Every time I use it I come away with something special. It’s a bloody beaut for astrophotography too with the super fast 1.4 aperture.
With micro four thirds, we aren’t exactly spoiled for choice in the wide-angle department. It’s very thin on the ground, and also really blummin’ expensive at times. This Olympus 9-18mm is not a good lens, spec-wise. It’s all a bit negative. It is the most nasty plastic-y build quality I’ve ever had the displeasure to use. I mean, I suppose that makes it super light? So silver lining? But I wouldn’t want to sneeze too forcefully around this lens, put it that way.
I’m not exactly selling it to you, am I?
Let me continue. It packs down with a switch, and refuses to work unless you’ve opened it up. Which you’ll forget to do a lot.
It isn’t stabilised.
It isn’t weather-sealed. In fact I think it might dissolve in a light drizzle.
It’s slow as all HELL at f4-5.6.
So why is it on my list? Well… despite all this stuff, I’ve taken some of the best images I’ve ever taken with this stupid lens. And despite everything, I absolutely adore the defective little git. The truth is, if I did sneeze a bit too forcefully in its general direction and break it, I’d go straight out and buy a new one.
Here, have some extra photos, you absolute confusing show-off of a lens.
I’ve experimented with a few different brands of vintage lenses over the years. My set of Canon FD’s are the ones I keep coming back to time and time again. I have the 28mm, 50mm, and 100mm. I adapt them with a focal reducer which I picked up for cheap on eBay, (which you can find here).
I love the unpredictable nature of vintage lenses. I love that you can buy one lens three different times and get three different results. A lot depends on how the glass has been looked after over the years. But sometimes imperfect copies can create more interesting results. Luckily, it’s a relatively cheap hobby so dive in and get experimenting!
The FD lenses I’ve found to be very good for video too. I love the different shapes the bokeh can take, and the soft fall-off from the centre of frame. There are quite a few FD lenses still knocking about, but as a rough guide, I’d always stick to prime lenses, and aim for the focal lengths i’ve gone for. They’re little gems, honestly.
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